Karate really does do all the things they say it does: the self-confidence, the health benefits, the works.
I mention it because only this week did I make an interesting connection between Karate and my writing. In November of 2014, I participated in Nanowrimo and completed my goal. The very next day, I got an invitation from TheSurvivalMom.com to be a contributing author. And that led indirectly to the invitation to speak at the League of Utah Writers conference in Fall 2016, which led indirectly to my joining the team over at Fiction Vortex. And last week (May 2017) I started work as an Acquisitions Editor with Immortal Works.
Maybe it’s not flashy or exciting, but that’s a lot of success, at least by my own definition of success. I am not making any meaningful money, but I get to write about things that interest me and people take me seriously and can tell people I am “in publishing.”
I’ve wanted to get to this point for ages, ever since my senior year of college when it dawned on me that I hated translating Arabic newspapers, but obviously it didn’t happen right after college. I read somewhere that sometimes people are afraid to try for their dreams because they don’t think they’re worthy. That’s something that I really struggled with in the past to a huge degree. I’ve always been an underachiever, ever since I was a little kid. And then when I got rejected by the CIA in Oct 2005 I felt really depressed for a while because obviously I wasn’t “good enough.” Ever after publishing my first short story in 2011, I was beset by imposter syndrome.
So what changed? Why is all this happening now and not ten years ago? What happened in my life in 2014? I am sure it was the Karate. I started in 2008, and in March 2014 I took my black belt test.
It was a grueling time – the style I subscribe to won’t give a black belt to just anybody, so you really have to earn it. The Powers That Be do this by making sure you are completely exhausted before they even look at your material. It usually takes 4-6 hours and you’re not allowed bathroom or water breaks. The black belt test wasn’t just the test, it was also the several months of extreme training leading up to the test. It was all worth it, though. When they gave me that black belt, I got all choked up and teary eyed.
Once you’ve survived a black belt test, everything else is a cakewalk. Natural Childbirth? Easy. Five children? No problem. Supporting my husband to quit his job and live on savings for two years so he could get his degree? Not even a big deal. Being a real author? Can do. I even thought for a while about running for public office. When I realized how much I would hate being in public office I put this idea behind me, but still.
Post-black belt, I started thinking of myself as a real writer with something meaningful to contribute. I started sending out stories – lots of them – for publication. I got a lot of rejection letters, and sometimes I did feel sad about it, but I didn’t let rejection stop me. I did “morning pages” as defined by Julia Cameron in her book “The Right To Write.”
I suppose if you really wanted to find a moral to the story, you could; probably something along the lines of “start taking Karate!” or even “if you don’t stop trying, eventually you’ll succeed.”